Talking Title IX

Taking a look at discrimination against transgender students

More stories from Nicole Bellford


Title IX, the civil rights enactment of 1972, clearly states all federally funded institutions must provide equal opportunities and treatment to students, regardless of gender.

Let me say that one more time: Regardless of gender. While some may read this statement at a basis of discrimination solely against males and females, recall gender spans past the boundaries of two simple realms.

Nevertheless, schools across the nation have failed to uphold this requirement to transgender youth.

In February of 2017, CNN reported the Trump administration made a collective decision to withdraw protections for transgender students in all federally funded institutions, no longer permitting them to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Students are once again required to use facilities associated with their biological gender, reversing the Obama administration’s efforts to permit otherwise just one year previous.

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, voiced the transgender community’s opposition to this decision.   

“The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking,” Griffin said. “This isn’t a states’ rights issue; it’s a civil rights issue.”

I understand some people may consider this a rudimentary issue that doesn’t severely impact a student’s educational experience, but I ask those people to look a little deeper.

Would you send your teenage daughter into the men’s bathroom? Do you think she would feel comfortable? Do you think she would be complacent with being told her gender doesn’t matter, and that she has to suck it up? Do you think she would feel accepted by her institution?

Let’s be honest. She wouldn’t.

That being said, why is it acceptable to treat a transgender teen this way?

It shouldn’t be. Not now, not ever.

Looking beyond the classroom, a lack of Title IX compliance toward the transgender communities has become present in athletics as well.

Earlier this year, Mack Beggs, a high school wrestler from Texas, won his first state championship title.

The only issue? It was in the girls division.

According to the Washington Post, Beggs, who began his female-to-male transition process two years prior with the help of testosterone, has repeatedly been forced to compete in the girl’s division of his favorite sport, despite his gender identity. The University Interscholastic League, an organization that oversees sports in Texas public schools, made this decision in the same week the Trump administration decided on the issue of transgender bathroom use.

Parents and competitors were upset with the decision to allow Beggs to compete, including Patti Overstreet, a mother of a wrestler in the Texas high school boy’s division.

“She’s standing there with her head held high like she’s the winner,” Overstreet said, referring to Beggs. “She’s not winning. She’s cheating.”

While it is hard not to call Beggs’ use of testosterone a clear advantage on the mat, we have to look past the concern toward championship titles and understand the real problem here.

This entire issue arose all because the Texas public school system was against allowing a transgender student to compete in the division associated with their gender identity.

Beggs had two choices: Either compete in a girls’ division, or don’t compete at all. Speaking as a student athlete, I would absolutely compete in the wrong division rather than not compete whatsoever in the sport I love. Regardless of how uncomfortable it made Beggs, he did it because he loves to wrestle, and he shouldn’t become the enemy for that.

Whether it be in the classroom or on the field, our nation has reached a point where even the federal government is disregarding the requirements of Title IX.

I urge the current political administration and federally funded institutions to take a closer look at their concept of gender equality. The transgender community is altogether deserving of the same rights as anyone else. We can no longer claim “compliance” while completely disregarding an entire population.